Archive for the Horseshoe Diaries (Equestrian Corner) Category

Coker Farm, New York: Jewel Horse

Dec 5th, 2012 Posted in Angela, Horseshoe Diaries (Equestrian Corner) | no comment »

I was running slightly late to the riding lesson at Coker Farm.  I had an one hour lesson voucher through Shady Lane Farm this time.  As it was later explained to me by my instructor, Marguarite, Shady Lane currently leases horses from Coker.  I hurried into a big red building and saw a pretty, smaller horse all prepped and ready to go.  She was to be my school horse for the lesson.  Her name was Jewel (a 16 year-old mare, almost full, if not full quarter horse) and she was a jewel of a horse with a gentle temperament and an equally lovely trot.  She was also the perfect size for little me and her trot wasn’t nearly as bouncy as other horses, making the ride much more pleasant.  A gentler trot also means an easier time for me to learn posting.  Jewel has been at Coker Farm for approximately five years and for that time has almost always worked as a school horse.  Marguarite mentioned that a little girl does regularly train on Jewel.

I initially worked on basic steering/control and on improving my riding form with Marguarite for a half hour before she put Jewel and me on a lunge line.  The rest of the time was dedicated to posting and trotting.  I experienced a new challenge this day.  I had to share the indoor paddock with two other riders;  I was scared to bump into them and their horses.  I was also slightly distracted.  The other riders though were much more knowledgeable in riding than me so when I was finished with my lesson, I was able to stay for a few minutes and watch them ride around the paddock.  Unfortunately, I had missed the cantering.

Marguarite recounted a funny little story regarding Jewel.  Apparently, during warmer months, the barn doors are kept open to let in fresh air.  Jewel has been known to all-of-a-sudden become unresponsive to her rider’s commands and on her own volition, briskly walk out the door (rider still in tow) to graze on the grass.  Not exactly a vice, but definitely an oddity.   No one has ever gotten injured from this but I’m not sure how a newbie like me would react to this behavior?  Well actually, Jewel did do something unexpected during my lesson…  As Marguarite returned with the lunge line, Jewel walked away as if to say, “oh no, please not today!”  It took me a few tugs on the reigns to get Jewel to stop walking away.  It did make me a little nervous though but everything was fine afterwards and she accepted the lunge line without difficulty.

Barn Story…  When Jewel and her friends sensed apples and carrots nearby, I had their undivided attention.  They must have heard the crinkling of my plastic bag; perhaps a recognizable signal of impending treats?  There was not a horse in that born who didn’t stick his or her head out their stall to get a better look.  Like many other domesticated pets, they will definitely let you know that they are interested in receiving a snack.  They can also become a bit temperamental when they must wait their turn.  Jewel seemed grateful as she accepted her apple and carrots, but definitely not demanding.  I would love to work with her and Marguarite again.  I never take a nice day for granted.

We met a super friendly farm dog on the way to our car.  He was tall and lean and loved to jump.  I’m not sure of the breed?  He even wanted to hop into the car with us.  Sweet pup.  Then, as quickly as he had appeared before us, he disappeared into the thickets or behind the little red house as we drove away.  Maybe I’ll see him again soon?


*Photocredit: Andrew


My Saddlebrook Farm, New York: Jupiter Horse

Dec 5th, 2012 Posted in Angela, Horseshoe Diaries (Equestrian Corner) | no comment »

I was very excited to return to My Saddlebrook Farms (after almost a year later) for the second part of my riding lessons.  I hadn’t seen my friends, Hudson and Charlie, in a while.  Wish that the farm was much closer to the town I reside in; it’s up in Walden, New York =(.

I chose a pretty busy weekend to go too; my coupon was about to expire.  The farm was swamped with eager riders.  I wouldn’t have minded to be paired off with Hudson again (who had just returned from a ride and earned some rest), but instead I got to ride a very nice steed (appaloosa? quarter horse, thoroughbred mix of 18 years of age) named Jupiter.  I love that name!  No vices and such a sweet natured school horse who responded to commands pretty well.  My instructor was the very knowledgeable and good humored Dave.  After some basic review and corrections to my riding form, I guess Dave thought I was ready to learn balancing and posting on a walking Jupiter, followed by a trotting Jupiter.  Wow, that was pretty tough (I was sore for three days after the lesson)!  I was a bit stiff too at the start of the lesson from some mild anxiety…  All the while trying to remember heels down, toes up…   It was all a lot of fun though!  When I was able to correctly post, it felt effortless, weightless (like doing a correct Crow in yoga) because I followed the rules and allowed the movements to flow without the emotional blocks- just trusting myself and Jupiter.  Dave assigned me some homework to help improve my posting techniques- a pillow and two wine glasses, think red wine and white carpet ;).  Somehow Jupiter knew to stop when his trotting was getting too much for me; my pal was also pretty perceptive.  Jupiter has quite the bouncy trot!

As always, after the riding lesson, I treated Jupiter to an apple and carrots because he had worked very hard for me that day.  Normally I dislike carrots and am all too happy to share them with my equine friends.  I also visited Hudson and Charlie after saying goodbye to Jupiter.  I don’t know if Hudson remembered me at all, afterall, I rode him just once and it had been months ago but when his eyes met mine, he seemed to look at me with a familiarity of a colleague.  I would love to believe that he did recognize me.  Like I mentioned in a previous post, horses can have very expressive eyes sometimes.  I have such a soft spot for these animals, most people would think I’m crazy…  well, except for those people who love horses as much as I do; they would probably understand.

I have included below, a still from a video my husband created for me to remember Charlie by.  He is happily noshing on a Jazz apple.  More photos to follow.


*Photocredit: Andrew



Summit Farm, New York: Hondo Horse

Nov 27th, 2012 Posted in Angela, Horseshoe Diaries (Equestrian Corner) | no comment »

One weekend I noticed my horseback riding coupons were starting to accumulate and two were on the edge of expiring.  I hadn’t gone riding for months and now was a good time to do so.  I had really missed being around horses and had been preoccupied with a big family project for months =( and desperately deserved a break from everything.

We arrived at Summit Farm, nestled in pretty North Salem, with a few minutes to spare.  A sheep who had been grazing on the grass and tied to a fence, along with his two cat friends (a tuxedo and a marmalade tabby), greeted my husband and I as we wandered around the premise looking for the instructor.  She had been running a few minutes late and was finishing up a riding lesson in the indoors paddock.  The instructor’s name was Pam.  Originally I was supposed to ride Abbey Horse; however, the girl who leases her decided to go riding that afternoon too so I was paired off with Hondo Horse instead.

Hondo was a tall paint quarter horse mix of 11 years.  Though he appeared calm, as every school horse should, he had a stubborn streak in him.  I was warned that he liked to challenge newbies by stalling every once in a while.  He did just that to me.  I had to give him occasional nudges and squeezes to encourage him to continue walking.  I really couldn’t blame him for not wanting to cooperate since he had just been ridden by the previous student.  He had rested for no more than ten minutes before we began the lesson so I did feel empathy for him.  My AmazonLocal voucher was for a half hour of instruction so before Hondo and I started to get used to one another, the lesson was already drawing to a close.  Though I may experience much more fatigue and muscular pain during my one hour lessons, I do prefer and would recommend them over the half hour ones.  It does take time to get accustomed to one’s instructor, horse, and riding equipment.  I spent most of my time concentrating on just the basics- afterall, it had been a while since the last lesson.  I had used a riding crop for the first time and if you know me, could easily guess that I was very uneasy at first to use it on Hondo for fear of hurting him.  To my relief, it was unlike a whip and was a gentle reminder that he needed to progress forward.  Pam was a pleasant instructor to work with and also showed much patience towards Hondo.

The atmosphere of Summit was fairly carefree.  My husband and I walked around the farm watching the animals playing, grazing, and basking in the sun…   So many lovely lovely horses I’ve seen too!  Have you ever looked into the eyes of a horse and saw that beyond a giant powerful exterior was a gentle, sensitive, and curious entity?  Humans must be very strange to them.  I hope they have seen more kindness from us than anything else.

I’m a typical city girl, but with dreams of owning a horse someday and an alpaca farm.


*Photocredit: Andrew


My Saddle Brook Farm, New York: Hudson Horse

Dec 4th, 2011 Posted in Horseshoe Diaries (Equestrian Corner) | no comment »

I just came back from My Saddle Brook Farm not too long ago.  I had my second horseback riding lesson thanks to Westchester Magazine’s Deal of the Day.  Initially I slowly rode several times around their corral and with the supportive nudge of my instructor, Helen, even had the horse trot a few times.  Hudson (horse) and I eventually went on a gorgeous scenic fall trail ride with Helen and my husband alongside us!  At the end of the lesson she asked me how I felt and I honestly told her the experience exceeded my expectations because that’s what it did.  I thanked her for encouraging me to go on the trail ride.  Lord knows how long I would have taken to dare broach the topic on my own.  Today, my school horse was a handsome and sweet fellow of 11 years and a thoroughbred who previously raced in Canada.  Through mud and rocky trails, Hudson endured for an hour long lesson and more than earned his carrots and Red Delicious from me.   Despite his vices of cribbing and wood-chewing he’s still a great horse companion.  There’s no feeling in the world like being on a horse.  You forget all your worldly cares and troubles really.  You can finally leave these things behind.  I equate the experience to going fishing in a quiet but lovely lake community- just you in a boat with food and drinks.  I have a second lesson left as part of the package deal and I’m happily anticipating it.

*Photocredit: Andrew

Larkspur Farm, Connecticut: Domino Horse

Dec 4th, 2011 Posted in Horseshoe Diaries (Equestrian Corner) | no comment »

I’ve loved horses (specifically unicorns and pegasi hehe) since I was 9 years old.  They were my favorite subjects to draw despite the challenges of their complex forms.  Ever since seeing the movie, “Secretariat,” my love for horses has especially deepened.  They’re both noble and beautiful creatures.  It’s their big stature and power which really scares me so I never would have thought I would ever get the nerve to ride one.  Recently my husband saw a coupon for a 1/2 hour horseback riding lesson at Larkspur Farm, Connecticut.  He encouraged me to give horseback riding a try and I’m very grateful he did.

As we were driving to Larkspur, I could feel the butterflies in my stomach.   I tried to re-focus myself.  We (my husband had a 1/2 hour lesson too though he had ridden a few times before we met) registered and put our riding hats on.  While fussing with my hat, a tall and handsome 9 year-old gelding warmblood (patched white and dark chocolate coat) approached with his handler.  I remembered thinking this wonderful steed would be my first school horse and smiled to myself.

Domino was afraid to walk downhill and needed much encouragement.  I felt empathy towards him and hoped he would one day overcome this fear.  We met Amy, our instructor at the indoor sand paddock.  I liked that she, like Domino, was pretty patient with me.  Domino was all too happy at the slow pace I wanted to keep.  I found out that Larkspur acquired him about a year ago from his previous owner (who wanted to train him for dressage and jumping but realized he wasn’t the best fit for those activities).  Sometimes his slow sleepy movements would even turn into a full stop.  I would then give him a little squeeze with my legs to remind him to continue walking.  We were mostly circling around the paddock clockwise and counter-clockwise, and towards the end of the lesson we were navigating over ground poles.  I was amazed how sensitive he was to even a small pull on the reigns or adjustments to my body position when I needed him to turn.

It was a great first experience and he was a great first horse with a really sweet temperament!  Although, I do admit that while walking him back to the barn, he was quite adamant about feeding off of the hay bale which quickly drew his attention along our path- naughty boy! Imagine trying to tug an animal that’s 1400+ lbs away from his object of desire?!  He did warn me though that he wanted to go back a couple of paces, by blowing a small grunt and giving me a nudge on my right shoulder.  We finally got him back to the barn and fed him some carrot treats we brought from home.  We also fed his neighbors carrots too, that is, the ones with no dietary restrictions.  One of his neighbors was so cute.  He tried to get my attention by cocking his head sharply to the side and giving a little whinny as if to say, “how about me?  Can I have a carrot too?”  Of course we gave him one =).  I only wish we had brought more.

I really miss Domino and wish that he was mine!  If only the care and keep of a horse wasn’t that expensive and if only I had more leisure time (it’s heartbreaking to not spend any time with a horse you own)!  Hopefully I’ll get to ride him again in the near future =).  ‘Til then I can only hope he’s happy and living a good life at Larkspur.

*As an aside, I also have the Larkspur/Domino experience to thank for allowing me to cross off yet another item from my “feed bucket” list- a second pair of ear piercings.  I’ve been wanting to wear studs and hoops badly.  I was about 9 years old and the first experience left me with a horrible memory- it was quite painful.  In fact, I cried my eyes out and squirmed back then like the Piercing Pagoda, Danbury Mall CT customer several weeks back.  No tears this time; didn’t even flinch =).  My trip to Danbury was a spontaneous one and one that I will always be pleased about.  Jump and a net will appear before you!

*Photocredit: Andrew